This is a quick supplement to yesterday’s post on “Sense and Sensation“; today I read through Chapter 11 of Susan Cain’s Quiet (which I wish could be expanded and spun off into a book all its own), some while Anya read and played at the public library this morning, and I was blown away by the descriptions of introverted kids’ behavior (which I’m more and more seeing in Anya), and by the amount of incredibly practical information to make sure these kids grow up with self esteem and the understanding of their parents.
It makes sense that Anya would be introverted — both Janet and I are, and our fathers are as well — and in this light, some of her behavior, even at two years old, certainly fits in with this temperament. She’s reserved around strangers, and gets really upset if either someone gets in her face before she’s ready or there are too many people around for her comfort level. She’s slow to join in activities with other kids in a social setting, like a playground, preferring to hang back on the perimeter and watch the other kids first. It takes her a long time to brave a new experience, like going in the ocean, or riding her push-tricycle. She loves being outside, but not necessarily being really active. She really loves books — looking over the pictures and pointing out animals or colors or shapes, as well as listening to Janet or I read the text — and doing simple puzzles by herself on the floor.
Cain says the following about parents hoping their children will learn to self-regulate fearfulness or wariness:
If you want your child to learn these skills, don’t let her hear you call her “shy”: she’ll believe the label and experience her nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion she can control. She also knows full well that “shy” is a negative word in our society. Above all, do not shame her for her shyness. (p. 247 in the ebook)
After reading this, I realized how many times I’ve labeled Anya as shy, never to her face, but to other people while she was nearby. It was typically after an invitation from another parent for her to play with a group of kids, or to ride a small carousel or other kind of kiddie ride with lots of lights and noises. I don’t think that shyness has the same stigma in Asia as it does in the US, but if the constant push by the education system in Singapore is to produce outgoing leaders (and where class participatoin is a substantial part of a student’s grade), the Extrovert Ideal that Cain mentions is very much in effect here.
So now that I know, hopefully I’ll catch myself before referring to her as shy again, so that she’ll come to feel as she grows up that her introverted nature is nothing to be ashamed of, and is something that she can instead be proud of.